Thursday, January 30, 2014


For decades, I have been ordering stuff through the mail, and more recently, from online catalogs, and I’ve always had excellent results (with only a few exceptions). But lately, for some reason, I’ve had to send back everything I’ve ordered.

First of all, about two weeks ago, I ordered a pair of ice cleats, which basically were a couple rows of metal studs attached to criss-crossed wide rubber bands that stretch over shoes or boots. I was tired of taking my dogs for walks and ending up looking like a contender for a spot on the USA Olympic figure-skating team. And believe me, my triple toe loops weren’t at all graceful.

So I ordered the cleats in size L, which the advertisement said would fit women’s shoe sizes 9-11. I take a size nine.

The cleats arrived and I was excited to try them out, especially since the road that runs past my house had become so icy, it could have doubled as a bobsled track. I put on my boots and then tried to stretch the studded bands over them as my dogs, eager to go for our daily walk, stood and watched.

Never have I struggled so hard to pull on anything (except maybe those girdles I used to wear back in the 1960s).  I managed to stretch one of the bands from the tip of my toe almost all the way back to my heel, but the last inch was fighting against me. I pulled, I tugged, I called it unprintable names, but still it wouldn’t make it that last inch. Mustering all of my strength, I gave it one more mighty pull. It slipped out of my hand and acted just like a slingshot, flying halfway across the room and nearly hitting one of my dogs in the head.

Defeated, I sent back the cleats.

Then, I saw a half-price sale online for my favorite brand of bra, so I ordered two – one in beige and one in black. When the package arrived, I removed the first bra, the black one, which was fine. Then I removed the second one.

It was a flashy leopard print. It wasn’t even my brand. And it was huge.

No kidding, I could have worn the cup of that bra over my head, tied the straps under my chin, and used it as a helmet. I couldn’t help but wonder which unfortunate (and extremely well-endowed) woman was futilely awaiting her leopard-print bra.

So back to the post office I went.

On the same day I ordered the bra, I’d also ordered a joke gift for one of my friends, who’s in his 70s. It was a battery-operated grumpy old man, who moves and sings “Happy Birthday” while making rude bodily sounds. I figured it was fair payback for the stuffed reindeer that sang endless choruses of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” he sent me last Christmas.

Well, the birthday doll arrived and although it sang and made rude noises just fine, it didn’t move. I whacked it in the head a couple times, but still it remained motionless. I even spent 10 minutes trying to pry open the battery compartment way down in the back of the old man’s pants, and finally changed the batteries. But still he refused to move.

The weight of the doll prevented me from sending it back because the shipping probably would have cost more than the doll itself.  So I’m hoping my friend won’t even realize it was supposed to move (unless he reads this, that is).

And recently I experienced yet another mail-order failure.

When I’m in bed during the cold winter months, my back always feels chilly, no matter how many blankets I pile on. The solution I finally found was to wear a men’s thermal top – one that comes down past my hips – over my pajama bottoms.  Before I found the perfect shirt, however, I experimented with several different brands. One was too short, one was too thin, one felt as rough as sandpaper against my skin, and one was too constricting under the armpits. Finally, I found the perfect top by Faded Glory. It was soft, really long, and had some “give” to it.  I slept comfortably and toasty in it.

So I decided to buy a couple more. The problem was, when I returned to the store where I’d bought it, the clerk I asked led me to the sweatshirts.

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “Thermal shirts – you know, the ones that have kind of a waffle pattern on them?” When she just stared at me, I added, “Long johns?”

“Haven’t seen anything like that by Faded Glory in over a year,” she finally said.

I searched in several other stores and found nothing. So last week, I checked on Ebay and found only one Faded Glory thermal shirt listed. It was navy blue and miraculously, in my size. So I wasted no time buying it before someone else snatched it up.

When I received the package and opened it, I was puzzled. Inside was a bright red thermal shirt – by Hanes. I sent an email to the seller and asked her what had happened to the Faded Glory shirt she’d advertised. She wrote back and said she didn’t know… (duh?). I was tempted to ask her if it had flapped its sleeves and flown away. She offered to refund my money, once she received the Hanes shirt back from me.

It cost me $4 for shipping, which she didn’t refund. The worst part is I still don’t have a new Faded Glory shirt. I’ve washed my old one about 100 times already, and it’s beginning to look more like cheesecloth than a thermal shirt.

But I think I may have figured out what happened to the shirt I ordered that mysteriously disappeared.

It ran off with that beige bra I never received.

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